An important piece of late-season management is planning your streaming pitchers and hitters as far into the future as possible -- for example, seeing which rentals are hitting at Coors Field or which pitchers are lined up with weak opponents in the weeks ahead.
Of course, it's important not to overlook the present, and your competitors may avoid options based on season-long performance. You should never stop examining details if you're driving toward a title.
On the other hand, some helpful pieces remain obvious, including our first starting pitcher free agent.
Pitchers to stream
Luke Weaver (R), rostered in 8.6 percent of ESPN leagues, St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Diego Padres: Weaver is today's starting pitcher facing the Padres (which should be enough evidence to pick him up). He has allowed just six runs in 16.1 major league innings this year and will have a chance to build on it with Adam Wainwright (elbow) on the disabled list.
Matt Moore (L), 16.1 percent, San Francisco Giants vs. Milwaukee Brewers: Three of Moore's last five starts fit the "quality" definition, and his 42:13 K:BB since the All-Star break should cause optimistic scavengers to look past his horrid season-long numbers. The Brew Crew at least will strike out plenty, if that singular category is your need, and for all his woes, the southpaw's ERA is 2.10 runs better at pitcher-friendly AT&T Park.
Edwin Jackson (R), 19.6 percent, Washington Nationals at Houston Astros: The drop-off in rentals from those two already risky pieces is precipitous, so perhaps you should test your luck with the resurgent Jackson, who boasts a 2.92 ERA in six starts since being acquired by the Nats. The Astros' lineup remains dangerous despite its current holes, but those playing contrarian poker with streaming could win big if the river hits. (Speaking of planning ahead, E-Jax lines up for a two-start week after this outing.)
Pitcher to avoid
Drew Pomeranz (L), 83.1 percent, Boston Red Sox at Cleveland Indians: Pomeranz's 3.31 BB/9 and 4.18 pitches per plate appearance (third highest in the league) dampen his success. Cleveland holds the fifth-best BB/K (0.48) since the All-Star break. Not a bad spot to predict Pomeranz's 3.31 ERA will climb a bit.
If you're playing for 2018, a possible deep-league reliever target is the Diamondbacks' Jimmie Sherfy, whose sparkling year at Triple-A Reno (3.33 ERA, 11.4 K/9, 2.0 BB/9, 17 saves in 46 innings) may push him to a late-innings role next season -- perhaps closer if Arizona doesn't spend on the free-agent market and keeps Archie Bradley in a multiple-inning, shutdown-weapon role.
Projected game scores
GS is the projected game score for the pitcher. A "*" means that the pitcher lacks requisite career major league data to produce an accurate rating; these are the author's ratings.
Robinson Chirinos (R), 8.2 percent, Texas Rangers at Los Angeles Angels (LHP Andrew Heaney): The Jonathan Lucroy trade opened Chirinos up to at least majority backstop duty. Start him against lefties (.917 OPS against lefties this year).
Rhys Hoskins (R), 25.9 percent, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Miami Marlins (LHP Justin Nicolino): The numbers don't show it in his small sample size this year, but Nicolino does not like facing righties -- or anyone, really. The platoon faceoff will favor the hitter.
Kolten Wong (L), 16.7 percent, St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Diego Padres (RHP Jhoulys Chacin): He's recorded a knock in 17 of his last 19 games, a stretch in which he has sported a .377/.438/.551 in 80 plate appearances. Wong's home splits (.349/.437/.512) play effectively against a Padres pitcher leaving Petco Park.
Nicky Delmonico (L), 14.5 percent, Chicago White Sox vs. Minnesota Twins (RHP Ervin Santana): Who? The 25-year-old already has six home runs in 19 games. The big-bodied, moderately ranked prospect is staking his claim for playing time even after Matt Davidson (wrist) returns. Not even Big Erv should deter you from riding the wave.
Brandon Crawford (L), 31.7 percent, San Francisco Giants vs. Milwaukee Brewers (RHP Matt Garza): The dregs of middle infield are becoming more painful near the end of the season. Start with a platoon matchup if you're digging. Crawford's .255 home clip actually tops his road output, at least.
Yonder Alonso (L), 36.5 percent, Seattle Mariners at Atlanta Braves (RHP R.A. Dickey): Maybe he can capture some of that lefty power magic at SunTrust Park, and with a knuckleballer on the hill, anything is possible.
Ben Zobrist (B), 35.4 percent, Chicago Cubs at Cincinnati Reds (RHP Asher Wojciechowski): Manager Joe Maddon said he's keeping Zobrist at an important lineup spot despite his struggles. He's done most of his damage against righties, and Wojciechowski, despite his shiny peripherals, has been burned plenty by home runs (2.15 per nine over 50.1 frames).
Aaron Hicks (B), 47.1 percent, New York Yankees at Detroit Tigers (RHP Jordan Zimmermann): Hicks still needs time to shake off his DL stint, apparently, as he's hitting just .156. Luckily, Zimmermann is saddled with the third-highest wOBA (.385) against lefty bats. This could wake him up.
Max Kepler (L), 22.6 percent, Minnesota Twins at Chicago White Sox (RHP James Shields): Quietly 16th among outfielders on the player rater over the past 15 days (5.64) after Monday's action, the 24-year-old feeds on righty pitching (.284/.348/.512, all 16 of his big flies). Eddie Rosario is getting a lot of attention, but anyone facing Shields with this hot bat going deserves more on his own, assuming Kepler is over that illness that affected him this weekend.
Hitter matchup ratings
Notes: Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher's history (three years' worth, as well as the past 21 days) and ballpark factors. "LH" and "RH" ratings account only for left- and right-handed batters, respectively. Weighted on-base average (wOBA) is the primary statistic used in the calculation. Ratings range from 1 to 10, with 10 representing the best possible matchup, statistically speaking, and 1 representing the worst. So, for example, a 10 is a must-start rating, whereas a 1 should be avoided (if possible); a 1-2 is poor, 3-4 is fair, 5-6 is average, 7-8 is very good and 9-10 is excellent.